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NickA

D necks and Eflat necks

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I notice a fashion for "D" necks .. to the extent that a bass dealer I talked to says he's been asked to modify the odd bass to D before someone will buy it.

My own bass is Eflat and when I bought it ( some time back!) the matter wasn't something that mattered or got mentioned.  Likewise 'cellos have E and F necks and anywhere in between, but it's never mentioned.

I like the Eflat neck on mine as it puts my thumb in the same place relative to fingers as I use in other positions and a bit of rotation makes an F or a G harmonic easy to reach.

So .. tell me people, why are D necks the bee's knees and Eflat necks worthy only of modification.

Who is playing what and how much does it matter?

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Good thread.  Mostly supportive of Eflat.  Also mostly quite old so perhaps not with latest fashion.

I was trying a D neck 3/4 bass the other day (41" scale) and it felt fine.  My bass is 4/4 (8/9 at least) with nearly 44" scale; a D neck on that would be hard work in 5th position.

Frankly, I don't mind and reckon I'd easily adapt to either.  So still bemused by the popularity of D necks.

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The only issue I see with an Eb neck is that in most keys it makes the transition through to the thumb position slightly awkward for most people (by which I mean people brought up on a D neck!). My bass is an Eb, and like Nick's has a 44" string length. I find no real problem adjusting to a smaller bass with a D neck, apart from the aforementioned transition. It's part of the modern obsession with having EXACTLY what you think you want, rather than going with what you're given to some degree. Strings, pickups, bows, rosin, blah blah. Spend less time worrying about all of that, and D or Eb necks, and just play. Time spent playing will have far more effect on your musicianship than converting your bass to a D neck

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16 hours ago, neilp said:

. It's part of the modern obsession with having EXACTLY what you think you want, rather than going with what you're given to some degree. Strings, pickups, bows, rosin, blah blah. Spend less time worrying about all of that, and D or Eb necks, and just play. Time spent playing will have far more effect on your musicianship than converting your bass to a D neck

My double basses had Eb and D necks and I never gave it a thought.

My teacher couldn't even say without thinking what the three basses he owned were.

exactly as you say Neil It doesn't matter one jot until having read it matters makes one worry and obsess :)

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Nice to know I'm not the only one (who plays a 44" bass and doesn't care where D is)!  I didn't know such differences existed 'till I went to the Double Bass Bash the other year.

Refreshing after all the bollix we hear about "what's the weight", "what's the string spacing", "what's the fingerboard radius" in certain other threads.

I think we can conclude ... it really doesn't matter.

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Now that's dealt with, I can start my crusade to stop people spending so much time and money worrying about strings....

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Ah yes, well, strings ........ local luthier looked at my bass and said:

hmm helicore hybrids; you should swap those for a set of Evah Pirazzis let me show you (a very expensive) bass that's fitted with them.  A snip at £214 a set to you guvner.

They did feel nice (as did the bass) but I don't suppose anyone else would tell the difference.  Playing the right notes at the right time is doubtless more important (though my former Jazz tutor says "there are no wrong notes, only opportunities": this does not apply to classical music).

Got my popcorn ready ... off you go ;¬)

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I feel like D versus E flat necks make a difference if I pick up someone elses bass without having time to get used to it. So I could imagine having a preference if you were playing international gigs with rented instruments. On my own bass, surely you just find an instrument you like and get familiar with it?

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Ever wandered into a conversation by accident and thought "what on earth are they on about?"

Since I play one of those "short horizontal toys" as a colleague once described bass guitars, I am a bit bemused. Are you referring to the scale length of the neck, as I would say 34", 35" etc., or the lowest note on the thickest string, or the former, but with some standard using notes as reference? In my world I know how long the neck is, and tune the first string E, or D to suit the song if I need to. I thought double bass was similar tuning EADG, but it seems Eb was a standard length??

Google hasn't helped one jot, so can someone please take pity and explain? 

 

Edited by Richard R
typo
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Ok. Double basses also have different scale lengths.  Usually between about 40" and 44".  BUT, there is another defining measurement, which is the note you get when your thumb hits the heel of the neck and your first finger is opposite your thumb .. it will usually be a D or an Eflat ( but may be somewhere in between).  Hence D neck or Eflat neck.

If you are used to a D neck, then play an Eflat necked bass, you will find yourself playing sharp when your thumb hits the heel.

I never knew basses were different in this way unit someone played mine and said "oh, Eflat neck".

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On 13/01/2020 at 22:33, neilp said:

It's part of the modern obsession with having EXACTLY what you think you want, rather than going with what you're given to some degree. Strings, pickups, bows, rosin, blah blah. Spend less time worrying about all of that, and D or Eb necks, and just play. Time spent playing will have far more effect on your musicianship than converting your bass to a D neck

I should print these words out and memorise them 😁

I have a big German carved bass, 44" string length, Eb neck, much like Nick's. Last year Martyn Bailey put a C-extension on it. It was a bit of a job because the fingerboard had been reshot a lot, and there wasn't much thickness to work with. Of course, he said, I could give you a new D neck and fingerboard, which would make the bass a lot more desirable, more durable, better all round.

I couldn't even nearly afford it, but for the last year or so couldn't help wondering, what if...?

This thread has helped me put that notion to bed, and get on with enjoying the beautiful bass I already have. Cheers Nick & Neil!

PS If you're thinking about a C-extension, give Martyn a call. His work is amazing. Apols for the thread drift!

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19 hours ago, NickA said:

Ok. Double basses also have different scale lengths.  Usually between about 40" and 44".  BUT, there is another defining measurement, which is the note you get when your thumb hits the heel of the neck and your first finger is opposite your thumb .. it will usually be a D or an Eflat ( but may be somewhere in between).  Hence D neck or Eflat neck.

Right. I guess the approximate equivalent on a BG would be how far the body is carved to allow you to reach the upper notes. Though there is no equivalent of resting the thumb against the body as a datum position that I know of.

Thanks for replying, I appreciate that. Not sure when the knowledge would ever be useful,  but that's the difference between education and training. 🙂

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If you like playing a bass with an Eb-neck, good for you. I personally would not play an Eb-neck or switch between D- and Eb-neck, it is better to have a certain system and stick with it. Basses with Eb-necks are a hard sell because most modern basses have D-necks, so most players start out with D-necks and want to keep it that way.

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On 17/01/2020 at 15:07, Malvis said:

I should print these words out and memorise them 😁

I have a big German carved bass, 44" string length, Eb neck, much like Nick's. Last year Martyn Bailey put a C-extension on it. It was a bit of a job because the fingerboard had been reshot a lot, and there wasn't much thickness to work with. Of course, he said, I could give you a new D neck and fingerboard, which would make the bass a lot more desirable, more durable, better all round.

I couldn't even nearly afford it, but for the last year or so couldn't help wondering, what if...?

This thread has helped me put that notion to bed, and get on with enjoying the beautiful bass I already have. Cheers Nick & Neil!

PS If you're thinking about a C-extension, give Martyn a call. His work is amazing. Apols for the thread drift!

Funnily enough, Martyn did my extension, a couple of years ago (maybe 3 years). Mine is a Barnaby mechanical extension which Martyn fitted, and a fine job he did of it. Great luthier, one of only two who work on my bass

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8 hours ago, HumblePie said:

If you like playing a bass with an Eb-neck, good for you. I personally would not play an Eb-neck or switch between D- and Eb-neck, it is better to have a certain system and stick with it. Basses with Eb-necks are a hard sell because most modern basses have D-necks, so most players start out with D-necks and want to keep it that way.

Most players start on basses with D necks, and have no idea how easy it is to switch. It takes about 5-10 minutes for my intonation to get secure again after switching. I bought a bass with an Eb neck, not because of that, but because I fell in love with the bass. I don't care that it makes it harder to sell, because it's never going to be for sale

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As I said, good for you, but playing the double bass means relying on a system of motions and thousands of hours of practice, so I would never sacrifice all that or even a small bit of that for an instrument which is so unfamiliar. Over the years, I had some basses converted and also the string lenght shortened, they sounded even better after restauration and were much easier to play.

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As an ignorant savage (a) I wonder how you hit the right note first time between say 5th and 9th fret anyway! and (b) surely an Eb neck is going to give you marginally better access to higher notes?

If I had an EUB I'd reckon I'd need dots on the side of the neck 🙂

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All the jumps are easy because of repetition, the left hand remembers what to do, also in this case the heel of the neck helps to find the right spot. Although, what would be an "e" on the G-string with a D-neck would be a "f" on an Eb-neck.

You could compare it to playing electric basses with different scale lenghts. I am used to 34" and can play pretty flawlessly even when sightreading. I could do well with different scale lenghts, but I would lose a bit of my routine and precision.

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In perusing a topic like this I’m reminded of my own oft repeated aphorism:- ‘Thumb for show, nut for dough’.

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If you are playing mostly in a Jazz context like myself, you would have to play some solos, this is when this stuff matters.

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On 18/01/2020 at 19:07, HumblePie said:

As I said, good for you, but playing the double bass means relying on a system of motions and thousands of hours of practice, so I would never sacrifice all that or even a small bit of that for an instrument which is so unfamiliar. Over the years, I had some basses converted and also the string lenght shortened, they sounded even better after restauration and were much easier to play.

That's exactly the point, isnt it? Basses vary so much anyway, what difference does it make? You wouldnt buy a bass based solely on string length, after all....

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